From blazing a trail to painting with light, Watch This is Melbourne’s ‘little music theatre engine that could’ and the celebrated Sondheim repertory company is returning in 2019 with Sunday in the Park with George.
Since debuting with Stephen Sondheim’s black comedy Assassins in 2012, they have consistently delivered impressive productions that, in the words of Anne-Marie Peard, “feed our need for Sondheim and introduce new audiences to the painful joy of his work”.
It’s hard to believe they are only in their 7th year, and it’s a testament to the drive and commitment of the Watch This team that this company have become part of the fabric of Melbourne’s independent theatre scene. Audiences want to experience quality Sondheim works on our stages and Watch This deliver. Every. Single. Time.
In 2019, the team at Watch This will enter their eighth performance season with Sondheim musical masterpiece about art and artistry, Sunday in the Park with George.
With three seasons confirmed for August 2019 – one at the Lawler Theatre in Melbourne and one at Geelong Performing Arts Centre and a final season due to be launched December 4 – Sunday in the Park With George promises to take audiences on a poignant journey, bringing the past into the present tense.
Artistic Director Sonya Suares is excited to be co-directing this production with Dean Drieberg (Memphis The Musical, bare The Musical):
“Dean and I share a very similar sensibility, which is energising. For instance, we’re both passionate about representation and the role that art plays in who is rendered visible and who is erased from the landscape. This is a thematic we both identify as being at play in George, and something we think is worth teasing out a bit”, Suares said, ahead of their season announcement.
And, of course, there are the eternal ‘Sondheim’ questions of connection, choices and consequences.
“The title character [George] is not always sympathetically drawn and there’s a lot to dig into around the myopia of the artist – what they can see and what they are blind to”, she explained.
”I’m reminded of Hannah Gadsby’s scathing depiction of Picasso’s misogyny in Nanette. It’s important that as a society, we are able to unpack figures like Picasso, or in this case Seurat, rather than just deifying them or glossing over the parts that make us uncomfortable. Otherwise we just hand their cultural assumptions fully wrapped as our gift to the next generation.”
In Paris, 1884, George Seurat strives to transform the way we see. While he sketches in a park, preoccupied with composition, balance, light and harmony, his subjects are busy wrestling with life in a changing world – in particular, his muse and mistress, Dot, who feels both alive and invisible within his gaze. A century on, another visual artist – also named George – faces a similar dilemma as he attempts to forge a new direction amidst the pressure of high-end commissions and the merciless glare of New York critics.
Inspired by Seurat’s Impressionist painting, ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’, Sunday in the Park with George is a masterpiece in its own right. One of the most acclaimed musicals of our time, this moving study won a Pulitzer Prize and was nominated for an astounding ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Watch This alumni Nick Simpson-Deeks, who has been nominated for a Green Room award for each of his previous Watch This turns as Balladeer/ Oswald (Assassins), Manjiro (Pacific Overtures) and Bobby (Company) will play George Seurat and wunderkind Vidya Makan (Merrily We Roll Along, American Idiot) will play his muse and mistress, Dot. Jackie Rees, who entranced audiences as Madame Armfeldt in the company’s most recent production of A Little Night Music will return to play Seurat’s mother.
Musically directed by the delightful Dominic Woodhead and choreographed by Rhys Velasquez, Sunday in the Park with George is is a work that perhaps perfectly reflects the passion and ambition of the young company programming it. If their past performance is any indication, this production is sure to provoke, delight and reward those lucky enough to attend.
Tickets are on sale now, so you’d better book ahead.
For more details visit Watch This on Facebook.